Traditional or “outbound” advertising is all about framing a message, which is packaged and sent to a wide audience, hoping to capture the attention of the smaller audience being targeted. The efficacy of this scatter gun strategy has been eroded in recent years by the ascension of new technology that has fragmented audiences – the demise of newspapers, the use of DVR’s and on-demand television, the online delivery of music and other media, and most recently Social Media Marketing. Audiences no longer sit by passively waiting to be exposed to commercial messages. Today, people want to decide to buy, rather than to be sold to. More and more, they are making purchasing decisions based on their experiences with social media.

Social Media, and especially Facebook, is becoming the marketing outlet of choice for many businesses. However, as with any new technology, there is a learning curve. The nuances of how a campaign is run on social media are far different from traditional marketing. The focus and goal of various businesses is also unique – companies may want to sell their products, get referrals, gain exposure, service customers, and become the industry “expert,” and so on. However, no matter what the original goal, ultimately, the Page will take on a life of its own, as user’s define how they wish to interact with the page and, ultimately, with the company .

So while it is important to define a strategy prior to beginning any marketing campaign, the Page’s administrator must be flexible enough to tailor the content to the audience. This is the only way that Social Media Marketing will truly work as it should. Following are some examples to illustrate how Pages are being used:

Example #1: A specialty business providing a very specific product for a very specific demographic. This product is purchased via the business’ website. The Campaign began as a tool to generate more interest in the product and sell more units. The Business Page has grown from 2,000 Friends to over 12,000 in 7 months. While selling is still a goal, the Page has become a community for the users of this product to interact with one another, share stories about using the product, and ask questions of the business and to other friends of the page. The marketing team quickly recognized this and changed the campaign to fit the Page and satisfy the Friends.

Example #2: A local Laundromat owner has been successfully running a Social Media Campaign for over 2 years. While the Friends of the Page are not clamoring to engage, they do take full advantage of the coupons and special offers that are provided. In addition to the strategy of providing coupons and special offers the Page Updates provide specific information regarding household tips and general information that would be interesting to sit and read while waiting for your laundry to dry. An unexpected result of the page is that it is being used for customer service. Since there is not always an attendant on duty, when there are problems with the machines, the owner is quickly informed via Facebook posts, giving him the opportunity not only to intervene on a timely basis, but to show the results to other patrons, helping them understand that any problems they have will also be solved.

Content Marketing targeExample #3: Heating and Air Conditioning services are not something people need on a daily basis, but when they need HVAC services it is usually an emergency. The strategy for this page was to provide referral sources, warm leads and word of mouth marketing. The daily updates provide information to the friends of the Page as well as Coupons for services. The daily updates also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for this business, which is in a very competitive market. Keeping the Page active with daily updates keeps the business in front of its friends so that when a Friend or a friend’s friend/family member/etc. needs HVAC services they will be able to suggest this company.

While each of the above companies started their Social Media campaigns as a way of attracting and keeping customers, the Social Media Marketing professional handling their page has tailored the content to fit what users are looking for, making the friends of the page fans of the company.